EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 1, 2012

Methuen tax vote set for tomorrow

METHUEN — The City Council is expected to set a new tax rate tomorrow night and will hold a public hearing before the vote.

Councilors are tasked with determining rates for both the city's residential and commercial taxpayers. The tax rates will cover the fiscal year that began July 1 and ends June 30. The first bills reflecting new rates will be sent out in January.

Residents and business owners can address councilors before the vote at a public hearing scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

When councilors approved a $138.8 million operating budget earlier this year, Mayor Stephen Zanni said the average single-family homeowner could expect an annual tax increase of about $165.

Calling that estimate conservative, City Auditor Thomas Kelly said the average tax hike could drop to below $160.

The city is projecting $1.2 million in new property tax revenue this year, though the estimates are still pending final approval by the state Department of Revenue. Kelly said he is expecting the state to sign off on the numbers before Monday's meeting.

Last fiscal year, the average single-family home in Methuen was valued at $268,677. Homeowners paid $13.04 per $1,000 in value and the average annual tax bill was $3,503.

This year, Kelly said the average value of a single-family home in the city has dropped nearly $15,000 to $254,170.

Kelly said he is concerned such a drop in average value could force the residential tax rate higher.

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